I begin this lesson by guiding my kids as a whole through the observation of some "unclear" pictures that are taken at close range. We use clues that we see to identify what might be in the pictures. We discuss the details they see that make them "guess" what is really in the photo.
I only guide them through three easy mystery pics.
My classes have a great time with this section. They usually guess incorrectly on all but the leaf pics. The bird they always say is someone in jail and the teddy bear nose is always a flower, but they still have a lot of fun with this part.
The point of this portion of the lesson is to get the kids focused in on their sense of vision (pun intended) and get them looking at the details in the pictures that help us identify the object. This prepares them to make closer visual observations during science lessons.
Now for the challenge!
The kids are broken into teams of four. Each team is given a challenging mystery picture to identify. They are also given small magnifying glasses to use to examine the pictures. They are given five minutes to examine and discuss the clues they see in the picture that helps them identify what the object could be.
Each team decides what they are looking at and why (state and defend). They present their findings to the class. The class is asked to agree or disagree and I choose a few random kids to state why the agree or disagree with the team.
It is important for kids to learn to state defend their thinking because it develops critical thinking skills and it they will build on this for their entire educational career. A person who can clearly state and defend their position will have more potential for success.
Once we have had our discussion. Keep a time limit so each team gets a chance to present. I reveal what each mystery picture really is. I stress that it is not important whether the teams are right or wrong. What is important is how they found their clues and how they used them to help determine what the object in the pic is.
I have them do this exploration to sharpen observation skills as well as introduce them to the concept of making a statement based on evidence and then supporting the statement with the evidence they gather. This is a struggle for them in the beginning, but by January, they are very skilled in it and to a minimal extent, they begin to debate.
Once all of the teams have had their opportunity to share their pictures and their hypotheses regarding what they think each photo is a picture of based on evidence that they provide the class, I reveal what each object really is.
We celebrate success whether the teams "guessed" correctly or not as an incorrect hypothesis is as valuable as a correct one.
Teacher note: An incorrect hypothesis can provide just as much information about a topic as a correct one as it allows us to change a single variable to evaluate even further for a more accurate solution or understanding.
I elaborate by explaining to the kids, in a very basic way, how the human eye picks up images that the brain interprets into sensible information in order to understand what it is looking at. I use a diagram on the ActivBoard (Smart Board). If an interactive board isn't available, I use a doc cam, an overhead, or a hand-drawn poster.
I refer back to the challenge of looking at those close up photos and how difficult it was to identify the objects at first, but once our brains started to interpret the clues in the images, they were able to identify the objects even though we weren't able to see the whole picture.
I ask the kids how the sense of sight can provide assistance in an observation. I ask them to provide ideas of when/how we could observe objects using sight. I record their ideas in a list on chart paper.
As they offer their ideas, I probe a little deeper to get them to explain how the sense of sight will help us in observing the object they suggest.
We also discuss how the magnifying glasses make our sense of sight more effective for observing objects.
This conversation is important because it brings everything we've done to the science we will be working on in the future. They remember this conversation when we observe our fish, snails, and other creatures.
I have the table captains take the diagrams for each person at their table. I then ask the rest of the kids to go to their seats. We fill in some key labels to parts of the human eye. There three missing labels. I have the kids copy the missing labels from the poster. Once they have successfully done this, I have them glue their diagrams into their folder.
If a child struggles with copying from the poster, I write the words in highlighter for them and have them trace the words. It is important for the kids to keep a record of what they learn in science so at the end of the year, they will have a record of all their science learning experiences.
When we are finished with our journals, we gather back on the floor to close the lesson. I ask a few who get done quickly to explain how they use their eyes to see. A very basic understanding is what I am looking for here.
I use name sticks from a name stick can to avoid bias in choosing students to answer. This way all students are guaranteed to be called on randomly and they remain engaged in the thinking rather
I pose the question, provide wait time (think time), and have them tell their talking partners their idea. Then I choose a name from the name stick can. Following this format allows the kids a secure feeling before answering out loud to the whole class. If the class is young or second language learners, I provide sentence stems early in the year. They are open ended sentence stems so the kids still have to use the information they've gained from the lesson to answer.
Example: My eyes can see because ______________________ .
I would except an answer as simple as, "My eyes take a picture and my brain tells me what it is."